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Stickman's Weekly Column November 11th, 2001

Stickman Bargirl Investigations

"Every year, tens of thousands of Western men come to South East Asia for a seemingly innocent holiday and end up falling in love with the lovely bar girls of Thailand. Upon returning to their home countries, they become love struck and are simply
unable to get that Thai lady out of their mind. Contact is made with their darling and after a while, the fellow realizes that if he wants to pursue something serious with her, he has to get her out of the bar scene – and that is going to cost
him. Before he knows it, the inevitable monthly payment is being made and the flow of money has started – and along with this, a small part of his heart goes to her too." – does this sound familiar? If it does, you have previously read the
advertising for the Stickman Bar Girl Investigation Service.

Around this time last year, I started this service as a small sideline. It all started with readers emailing me, asking me to look into their girlfriend's backgrounds when I was out and about. I saw that an opportunity existed and it slowly developed. Over the course of the last year, many investigations have been completed and it has provided a fascinating perspective into what goes on behind the scenes.

He Clinic Bangkok

* On more than one occasion, requests have come in to investigate girls that I have already investigated i.e. proof that there is currently more than one person sending money to the girl in question and in some cases, different people sent me exactly the same picture of her with the exactly same file name – meaning that she must have sent the same picture of herself to several guys!

* People in Bangkok have told me about how wonderful their current girlfriend is, only to meet her and realise that she is a girl who I had previously investigated (for someone else) and found out had that she had a major ya ba problem!

* There was the email I was reading describing this girl, and upon clicking on the jpeg file, out leapt the picture of a girl who had been with a friend of mine just a few days earlier.

* There was the girl who one fellow wanted me to look into who I already knew was HIV+ as mentioned in a previous column.

* Someone wanted to investigate one girl who had lived with a friend of mine for a few months, and she had happily told us about all of the guys who were sending money. I declined to investigate and referred the customer to someone else to do it.

* Some girls are making a lot of money from several different guys, and the girls who are making a fortune often have big mouths, unable to keep it to themselves…like the girl in a certain gogo bar who had five guys sending her money meaning that she was pulling in more than 100,000 baht a month just in monthly payments. AND she continued to work!

But many people criticise the service, saying that the whole concept is fundamentally wrong. Some argue that these guys are all making a small fortune compared to the Thai girls, and if the punters are stupid enough to send money to a working girl, then they deserve whatever happens. Others siding with the girl argue that guys are foolish to enter into a relationship so quickly, especially given that we are usually talking about a girl with a modest education who made the decision to sell her body, suggesting that simply by entering into the industry in the first place, she cannot be trusted. One friend who I agree with on 95% of bar girl and related issues thinks its hilarious that girls with such a modest education can pull a fast one over guys twice their age with a tertiary education and far more life experience.

I see it a little differently. A lot of the guys in these cases are not rich and the money they send may well be a significant percentage of their income. Not only do the guys lose a lot of money, but their whole life is played with. I also don't buy into the education and life experience issue, refuting this with the argument that what we are dealing with here is honour and integrity, two traits that I believe are not found as abundantly in the East as they are in the West.

What is interesting to do is to turn it all around. Should these very same girls lose a lot of money or have their heart broken, they may well go hunting for revenge and contemplating something very, very nasty is not at all out of the question. Yet these same girls have no problem stealing money, nor playing with the guy's feelings.

My findings have indicated that the relationships with the highest success rates are those where the guy is sending 15,000+ baht per month and is in very regular contact with the girl, perhaps emailing daily and / or calling her several times a week. And in the more successful cases, the guys are popping out to Thailand frequently, perhaps as often as every second month. Yes, if the money stops, the girl is back in the industry in no time. These girls have to eat too.

Anyway, the breakdown of investigations results is roughly as follows: Guilty (equals still working and barfinable) 67%, girl not found / left the industry 10%, girl innocent (not working and verified to be doing something else or working but not barfinable) 20%, case abandoned 3%. In the cases where girls left the industry but were not found, it could not be determined if they were being a good girl or not i.e. they could not be located and while they may have been sitting at home alone being a good girl, they may just have likely have been with a Thai or farang boyfriend.

For me, its a real buzz to establish that a girl is doing as she says she is, being a good girl – and going on to report my findings to the customer. It's a real sinking feeling when you find a girl who is doing the dirty, telling her boyfriend one thing and doing another. Sending those emails is no fun at all.

I had planned to stop jamming Stickman's AIDS Avoidance / Condom Use Promotion down your throat, but this week I have been in correspondence with a couple of Brits, one of whom truly believed he had contracted HIV. Here are a couple of pieces from the two guys, the first from the guy who really thought he was about to be sentenced to an early death, and the other from his mate who had been supporting him through it all.

"Hey Stick, today I feel like a man let out of jail. FREE as a bird and released from the shackles that have been binding me for months. It has been a very emotional day and I cried even after receiving the good results of the HIV blood test. I read
the emails you wrote and they certainly did help me feel better. Today's news capped it off well. All sorts of things had been going through my head while I was waiting for the result of the HIV test. Stuff like: – "If its positive,
will I tell my family? If its positive, will I be able to live with it? If its positive, do I just walk out of here and go crazy until I die a horrible death? Will my family understand it or will they shun me? ….Many questions that I has asked
myself already many times…..and I still had no answers. Who knows how I would have reacted OR how the family would have reacted if I told them OR how I would have coped with my life as a HIV+ man. Truth is, this experience today has frightened
the shit out of me. Its something that will never be forgotten.

And what it's like at the anonymous STD clinic.

"Luck never gives, it only lends", so an age-old saying goes. This is a report about a visit of which a friend and I paid to a clinic were you are tested for HIV without giving your name.

The RED CROSS clinic was quite difficult to find, located on the cross roads / intersection of Rama 4 and Henri Dounant Road, probably because I speak little Thai and, once inside the grounds of Red Cross, the signs are all written in Thai, except for
the smallest blue one which says, as if almost secretly, "Anonymous Clinic" . Beware though, having asked the security guard for directions to the clinic, we ended up at an incorrect clinic and they wanted us to give our names and
sign a few forms. Then we realised "hey….this isn't anonymous. We are not doing this". We enquired further and were told the location of the Anonymous Clinic. Once inside the Anonymous Clinic, which is just like any UK clinic,
we were given a personal ID number and then we filled out a form each, which asked personal questions relating to sexual activity, age, occupation, when you last had unprotected sex and marital status…etc. Not at any time was our name, or
any data that would link us to the test, ever requested. The form was devised for analysis purposes only, to help medics see the attitude towards HIV and condom usage. 5 minutes later and the form was finished and submitted to the receptionist.
Next, you sit in the waiting room until your ID number is called out and are then led in to have brief chat with a doctor. Your blood is taken, you have a choice of either (A) waiting 30 or 40 minutes for the result OR (B) coming back another
day for the result.

We both chose option "A", costing 200 baht, and individually returned to the waiting room. That's when you really start to realise that your life could change, irreversibly, in the next 30 or 40 minutes. After 30 minutes the results came.
Your ID number is called again and off you trundle into the doctor's office. As you can imagine, its terrorising. But, provided your result is negative, you just say "thank you" and "goodbye" (all staff speak English).
End of the matter !! What happens if the test is positive? Well, I don't know and I hope neither you nor I will ever find out, and the only way to avoid doing so is to ALWAYS USE A STRONG CONDOM AT ALL TIMES.

Luck never gives, it only lends !! Don't have Lady Luck "call your loan" for early redemption. Play safe and wear a Condom.

I've never heard of this before, but nothing surprises me.

My friend took his lady out to dinner. After dining on chilli mussels, they went back to the hotel. Foregoing the usually shower things started happening! Suddenly Ms X starts shouting – "Water", "Fan". My friend did not know what
was happening until he realised that he hadn't washed his hands and the chilli sauce was causing a "burn in the bush".

Fairly strong opinions about my reluctance to EVER name people who are HIV+.

I agree it's not an easy question to answer, but disagree with your "do nothing" policy. That's very Thai to just ignore it and think it doesn't affect you. In terms of HIV, your sleeping with all the partners of everyone you've
ever slept with, and their partners too. Take it to it's conclusion and you're sleeping with me. So if you see me in a bar with a HIV+ girl, I hope you tell me. Otherwise you're letting us both down.

Loy Kratong 1000 baht bar fines.

In response to your question of why bar fines go up on Loy Kratong: Girls told me that they all would rather take a day off and have some fun or go home for Loy Kratong, and many would pay the 500 baht bar-fine themselves. So they say the 1000 baht is
not for the bar to make more money, it is so that they don't have an empty bar, with many girls having barfined themselves.

Higher prices in the islands.

I also agree with your last article that the prices in Phuket and Ko Samui are getting pricey. I was there in the beginning of September (low season) and still found some things high. In fact I think Ko Samui will really get bad over the next few years
more so because of what I call the McDonalds factor. Once the "Western" companies like McDonalds & Burger King arrive…its a sign of more mass tourism and thus usually higher prices.

So this is what happens when you don't stand up for the King's anthem before a movie.

A couple of "foreign visitors" (with lovely Thai counterparts) were at one of the movie shows at Big C. When the Royal Anthem was played, they continued sitting down (Should I say, spreading out !) on their seats and continued their loud conversation
in a (Sorry, Arabic, language. Wrong timing !). Their lovely Thai companions yelled at them, in no uncertain terms, to stand up and shut up. This advice being ignored, the two girls grab them and pull them out of their seats. Obviously in need
of more assistance, given the corpulence of the visitors, a few of us lent a hand. Ending in a not very gracious exit by the "guests", who were followed to the parking lot by a number of people (Thai and non-Thai !) already informed
via the Jungle Drums about the deeds of the exiting, obese, visitors.

Interesting observations indeed, but analyse it at your peril. When you start to analyse it, the results often don't add up, and the enjoyment can start to wane.

The thing is that on the one hand I'm completely fascinated by the whole scene, on the other I'm getting mixed messages, like the whole thing is a just sham and we farangs are not really respected except for our money. Especially certain things,
some of which you point out as well, I find contradictory and disturbing. Anyway, let it suffice to say that aesthetically the girls are very pleasing, but on a social, intellectual, emotional, and erotic level they are sorely lacking.

Soi 22 expanding? I make it to Washington Square occasionally but haven't noticed too much.

Soi 22 is turning in to a bar soi. I have been staying on this Soi for nearly 4 years. It has gone from a couple of bars to probably 15-20, including 6 new Pattaya style in some open ground next to the Regency Park which, until last month, was a park
like setting with music and a outdoor restaurant. But they guy who brought us the beautiful mall of bars in the dirt at Asoke and Sukumvit has gotten this one and now cut down the trees and installed bars. Check it out. While you are there, visit
RAAN DERM Restaurant right across the street. It is a terrific Thai restaurant with wonderful decor and killer food and very reasonable prices.

Last week's picture was taken at Nana Plaza and featured the stairwell connecting the first and second floors on the right hand side of the complex.

Where is this pic?

Clue: Look at the background…

Where is this beautiful temple complex located – and
if you are really good, where was the photo taken from?

I've received many emails regarding my observation that the anthem was not being played before movies in Pattaya, most refuting my claims that it is not played. Let me qualify by saying that I went to the movies twice in three days at Royal around 3 weeks ago, and each time, the anthem wasn't played. But from what Pattaya locals have told me, this is not the norm.

Rainbow 3 opened in Nana Plaza on Wednesday, occupying the small spot next to Titty Twister that used to be a hair salon. The bar is nicely done out, as you would expect from a new bar, and its worth noting that the toilets are super clean! The sound system was a little harsh, but the area of big disappointment is the girls working there. While there are a lot of girls in a relatively small bar (44 dancers alone on Friday night), most of them have been around for a while. There are a few ex-Rainbow 1 girls, along with girls from various other bars, including that attractive girl from Chiang Rai who used to work at Fantasia – but who looks more than a little young. But, it must be said that the girls in this bar are a rather well fed bunch, and anyone with a preference for bigger, well rounded girls will not be disappointed. Also, this is the first of the Rainbow bars to sell drinks at Crown Group prices – 110 baht for beer or spirits. For a new bar that doesn't exactly have the most attractive girls to lure you inside, this might backfire. Why pay 110 baht when you get a lousy view? I'm picking that Rainbow 3 with the worst location of the Rainbow bars will become the domain for the least attractive girls of the three Rainbow bars. Overall, it's got to be said that the Rainbow Group have dropped their standards a little.

The Cathouse in Nana Plaza have been handing out leaflets advertising Beer Chang for 30 baht. Ah, at last someone has caught on to the idea of offering decent specials to get customers in the door. Beer Chang is a bit on the harsh side, but who's going to complain at that price!

Aussie Wally overheard a bargirl saying this in Nana Plaza last week: "Bin Laden means Bang Bang Bang, no good for Boom Boom Boom in Thailand."

Quite a few of the t-shirt vendors at Patpong and on Sukumvit Road are selling Osama bin Asshole T-shirts along with various other September 11 disaster T-shirts with insensitive slogans. The simple fact of the matter is that the people selling them are ignorant and simply do not realise what it is all about – but that doesn't make one feel any better about it.

Going from bar to bar and drinking my favourite Jack coke at each location, I ordered another one at Our Place in Soi Cowboy. I don't know what they gave me, but it WASN'T Jack! Was it watered down or was it simply the wrong drink? I don't know, but it sure tasted odd.

What's the deal with these Jehovah's Witnesses floating around the Sukumvit area? Native English speakers are hassling fellow farangs, trying to give out their nonsense propaganda. There is nothing worse than being accosted by religious freaks trying to convert you. This weekend they were hanging out at the Prom Pong BTS station. I assumed that this was something I'd left behind in the West….but I got that wrong.

Bars change. Some get better and others get worse. King's Castle 1 in Patpong has provided a veritable stables of attractive young ladies for a very long time, most of them very easy on the eye – so much so that even friends of mine claiming that they would never succumb to yellow fever would eventually have their mind changed by the King's Castle clan. However, a visit this week proved that this bar has taken a turn for the worse, and a bunch of not so attractive ladies currently stroke the poles.

Chelsea Bar in Sukumvit soi 33 had been running a rainy season special offering drinks all night for 80 baht, instead of increasing the prices to 150 baht after 9:00 PM, as is the norm in that soi. The special, along with the rainy season, has finished.

Magnum, Walls' premier ice-cream on a stick recently increased in price from 22 to 25 baht, taking it up the same price as Nestlé's (in my opinion superior) Mega. While this isn't exactly newsworthy in its own right, it should be noted that just four years ago, a Magnum cost just 17 baht, meaning that it has increased in price by almost 50% in a relatively short space of time. Eight baht won't break the bank, unless like me, you have no willpower combined with a minimart in your apartment building that is only too happy to sell you as many as you can pig down.

A fairly common but seldom mentioned problem for expats in Thailand is the quality of the power supply. Actually, the power that comes from the power company is not so much the problem, but rather the internal wiring within individual buildings which can cause major headaches. A fellow recently has his printer, modem and answering machine fried due to problems with the electricity in his apartment building. In fact in a lot of places, you don't even get an earth! Anyway, if you are a local who has experienced appliance problems, there are fairly good odds that it may be related to the power. Help is at hand in the form of the electrician guru, a friendly farang who can fix the problem for you. Email him for all electrical issues.

Grilled chicken skewers can be hit and miss. Some vendors sell
the good stuff while others serve up little more than skin and bone!

After switching to The Nation from the Bangkok Post, I find myself back to the Bangkok Post. As I had mentioned in a previous column, the quality of printing in The Nation is quite simply appalling. Bad instant coffee makes the morning a big enough struggle as it is but a paper that pulls my eyes out of my sockets, giving me a headache is just a bit too much… And credit where credit's sue, the Post has a great computer section on Wednesday…and hey, I still read Trink too!

I make few recommendations on this site, and when I do, I stick my neck out by recommending places, services or products that I really believe in. I have recommended one teacher's training school for a very long time, truly believing in the product that they offer. A recent story demonstrates what can happen if you go elsewhere. One particular school ran a training course recently and there were twelve trainees on it – and ten of them were non native speakers. Displeased at the lack of other non native speakers the two native speakers complained. In an effort to get them to shut up, they were both promised "A", irrespective of how they went on the course… Hmmm, not good at all….

There's a very amiable Frenchman from a French production company running around Bangkok doing research for a documentary about naughty nightlife in Bangkok and beyond… Unlike others who have come to Bangkok to make such a production, Marc appears to have done a lot of homework and doesn't have all of the misconceptions that many so may journalists before him have had. Marc would like some assistance and here follows a message from him.

Hi all,
My name is Marc, I am a French TV reporter working on a documentary on Bangkok night scene to be broadcast in January on French TV. To complete my report, I am presently looking for a successful love story between an occidental tourist and a bar girl. I know from reading this site that some of you tried and were deceived. I also know from talking to Stickman that some of you succeed into getting girls out of the business. I think it is important to understand how you succeeded and why. Contact me if:

-You are living outside Thailand.
-You are dating a former bar girl.
-You have long terms plans with her.
-You succeeded into getting her out of the business.
-You are coming to Thailand to meet her during the next month.
-You are willing to give your testimony for the French TV.

I would accompany and film you and your girlfriend at some important moments of your stay, of mutual agreement. I work alone, am very discreet and I have done this kind of job before. I won't put heavy pressure on you.

Please don't email me if you are not serious about it or to complain. My email:
marc@canalvalley.com, my cell phone in Thailand 09 82 82 701.

Thank you. Marc

Some of the Hard Rock Cafe staff working at the new branch in Pattaya have commented that the atmosphere at that particular outlet is not nearly as much fun as the Bangkok branch where some of them used to work… It's still new and I'm sure it'll get better in time. The awesome Philippines band who's name I can never remember, the #1 Hard Rock Cafe band on the SE Asia circuit, has just left after playing the first three weeks at the Pattaya branch.

Clinton Plaza is still quiet, in fact at times it feels almost lonely down there. There's nothing worse than the feeling of solitude in the bar areas, either being ignored by all of the girls, or being somewhere that doesn't even have any girls! Clinton Plaza with 5 busy gogo bars used to warrant a visit, but with just three operating now, Clinton seems to be little more than a pit stop for those making the trek between Nana and Cowboy. Foot traffic through the area with the gogo bars really is down…

All of the Clinton Plaza Gogo bars & Beer Bars were again served notice on Thursday that electricity will be cut off next Friday. It appears that this is due to their previous landlord, not paying any bills. Strange this has only just come up as the landlord apparently went belly up some months back and that's what brought on this whole situation. Perhaps it coincides with the only existing director thumbing his nose at the bank by opening up the Candy Store again…? There is real pessimism down at Clinton Plaza that this time, it really is the end. Those bars in the front of the main building should be O.K. as they have a different landlord who is paying on time. The Bank of Asia are screwing around with an offer that is on the table. However, Bank of Asia's owning bank, ABN Amro based in Bali, want shot of the building ASAP and are in wrangles with Bank of Asia.

It's still somewhat lonely down Clinton Plaza way. This
photo was taken earlier in the week and the board is now gone.

The Living Room at Clinton will not be effected by all of the nonsense going on down there and on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, the Soi Dogs Blues Band will be performing from 9:00 PM. There will be specials on Black, Red, Jack Daniels and Jim Bean. In addition, Singha will be 50 baht each, all night.

Wandering out of the Thermae late Friday night, I noticed about 20 or so police milling around. A closer look and some of the cops were ordering the street vendors outside Thermae and Clinton to close! Now exactly why they would do this is anyone's guess. The cops entered Thermae and the Clinton bars and informed management that they would all be required to close at 2:00 AM sharp. On Saturday night all of the usual vendors in that area were conspicuous by their absence.

All over the world, property next to harbours and rivers commands the highest prices but in Bangkok, the place where so many things never seem to make sense, riverside properties are not necessarily the most expensive properties. You can rent quite reasonable one bedroom apartments with a great view of the river for less than 10,000 baht per month – which really is a bargain – and I'm not talking Nontaburi here! Problem is that most places near the river, apart from the Saphan Taksin area, are a bit of trek away from the more central areas where many farangs work, like Sukumvit and Silom.

Entrepreneurial English teachers looking to supplement their income often come up with the idea of exporting a few of Thailand's cheap goodies, but quickly realise that while the goodies might be cheap, getting them over to Farangland is no easy task. For those selling direct to a customer without a middleman, postage rates out of Thailand are not cheap, and can make many items that seemed to be a sure winner suddenly become very expensive. High volume is the way to go, but finding people who are willing to make payment to someone in dodgy Thailand is not easy. If you want to export to Farangland, you most likely need a middle man and without them the task is very, very difficult – that is if you want to make any sort of reasonable money. The odd sale is simply not worth it, in my opinion, unless you are truly down to your last 100 baht.

A certain bar in Nana Plaza that serves decent Western food penalizes waitress staff for any errors on their part. If the wrong meal is ordered and / or the customer complains that what they received is not what they ordered, the FULL COST of the meal must be met by the waitress that night! Strikes me as being unfairly harsh. What do you think?

Following on from last week's piece about the Dutch Embassy currently making all and sundry queue outside, it appears that they are actually in the process of building a new consular office, hence the waiting area au natural

Who do all of those motorbikes in the Nana Plaza entrance way, and under the stairs, belong to? It can't be the girls because they are hardly going to be riding to work, going with a customer and then going all the way back to Nana to pick up their bike? Is it all of the bar managers, mamasans and waitresses? Or do they belong to some other group of people?

Who are the owners of all of these bikes? Do Thai
girls have a bit of thing for bikes?

The following came in from Mike, the former Midnite manager, proving that that was not him floating down the canal…. "Once again 'ol Mike is left in shit street. I am working with a friend of mine trying to put an Internet business together, but its taking a long time, and I am not sure if it will ever work. I need a real job again, you can't live on eggs everyday of you life." Unfortunately, the rest of Mike's email could not be printed but the moral of this story is an old one – choose a business partner just like you would choose a partner for life! Sadly, Club Topaz, the bar Mike was working on, will probably never open.

Further to my recommendation that you get yourself a mobile phone to facilitate meeting the locals and maintaining relationships, just bear in mind that the locals call at ay time of the day, which really means any time of the night. Getting indignant to a girl calling you at 4:00 AM will only make her think that you are not the type of guy she wants…so remember to turn your phone off late at night! Thais think nothing of calling at all hours. Speaking of which, it makes me chuckle when I see someone answer their mobile at 7:00 AM on the skytrain and it is someone just calling for a chat…

There are at least two dance contests taking place tonight, the Nanapongers running a show at Playskool in Nana and there is another show on down in Pattaya. With Nanapong having a second show scheduled this month, and seemingly a lot more non-Pong shows being held down Pattaya way, it seems that the dance contest craze started by Nanapong is really taking off. Just like the very best gogo bars, eventually the dance contests do become boring, because it is largely the same thing over and over again. I enjoy them, but I would like to see a change, something different. Still, there are enough guys coming through Bangkok, that they could probably run these for years without changing what seems to be a winning formula… Which leads me to the next issue. Are they becoming too popular? The dance contests have brought on a new level of raunchiness that aside from the truly disgusting frog and fish shows, I have yet to see surpassed. There is no shortage of girls prepared to prove that Heineken really is the bargirl's choice and seemingly, there is no shortage of girls offering their pussy for all and sundry to munch on either. However, have these shows reached a dangerous level of smut and popularity that could lead to nasty consequences? The shows are great, but I wonder if it is time to lower their profile?

The rainy season is behind us, in Bangkok at least. Blue skies and daily highs not much above 30 make Bangkok very pleasant at present – and it should stay this way until late February or so.

Your Bangkok commentator,